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Dr. Bill's Tipping Point Model of ASL Instruction:

A communication network approach to thinking about, "Who should be teaching American Sign Language?"

American Sign Language (ASL) and the community of people who use it can be thought of as a “communication network” that is similar to most other "networks" in that the value of the network goes up when more people join. Businesses set up websites because so many people use the internet. Facebook get’s its value from the fact that so many others are “on” Facebook. English is a useful language to know due to the fact that so many people already know and use it.

“The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system,” (Metcalfe's Law, Wikipedia, 2018).

The Deaf Community would do well to embrace Metcalfe's Law in regard to the teaching of ASL. It is when a language reaches a tipping point (of total users) that the language becomes valuable enough that almost "everyone" wants to learn it.

If we are to ever reach that tipping point with ASL we will need a massive number of teachers teaching a massive number of students. ASL will become MORE valuable and MORE widespread by having MORE teachers (whether Hearing or Deaf). Every Deaf person on the planet should encourage (competent) Hearing teachers of ASL to stay in the profession and get busy teaching more students which would in turn drive the demand for ASL classes higher and higher.

School districts throughout the United States require students to take "English" classes. Why? Because English is the "dominant" language. The more dominant a language is -- the more people want to learn it. If we want ASL to become a dominant language and have "ASL classes" taught in every school district -- we need more people teaching it -- not fewer. At the point where a nation becomes one big "Martha's Vineyard" -- is the point when Deaf people can go out and get the jobs we really want doing what we are interested in (because enough employers and coworkers already know ASL that language is no longer a barrier) -- instead of being pidgin-holed into competing for a few "ASL teaching jobs."

Anyone who criticizes or discourages (competent, respectful, humble) Hearing teachers of ASL -- simply doesn't "get" the big picture.




Tags and/or key search phrases: “The value of a network,” “ASL Tipping Point,” “one fax machine,” “Hearing people teaching ASL,” “Secondary Gain,” “Metcalfe's Law.”


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